In today’s news, it is announced by the researchers that a promising coronavirus vaccine candidate is now available at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In the early studies of animal trials, promising results have seen, but the studies over the human trials are still undergoing and are in its initial stages. During the past epidemics, researchers had overcome extreme situations.
CANDIDATE VACCINE FOR CORONAVIRUS:
According to the senior co-author Andrea Gambotto of a peer-reviewed paper, which was published in EbioMedicine Journal, he says that they had a previous experience during 2003 on SARS-COV and MERS-COV during 2014. It is because of this reason that the researchers were able to act immediately and come up with the candidate vaccine due to the laid groundwork. He further adds that both these viruses are strictly in approximation to SARS-COV-2, which tells us that we need to check the particular protein i.e., spike protein. This specific protein is unique for the induction of immunity in patients against the viruses. Gambotto further explains that the researchers exactly knew where to fight for this new virus. Andrea Gambotto also demonstrates that we need enough funds for vaccine research because we are not sure when we will experience the next pandemic.
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MODE OF ACTION OF PITTCOVACC:
The experimental vaccine, which is mRNA type, is also undergoing the clinical trials, but we have this new vaccine PittCoVacc. The new vaccine PittCoVacc (Pittsburgh Coronavirus Vaccine), works in the same fashion as the flu shot. The lab-made viral proteins are similarly injected into COVID-19 patients as flu shots to gain immunity. This same vaccine experiment was conducted in mice where the researchers observed the formation of antibodies to the highest level in two weeks after the injection. This surge of antibodies helped in neutralizing the effects of the deadly coronavirus. This new drug is delivered through microneedle array i.e., a Band-Aid similar to the patch. It comprises around 400 microneedles rather than the conventional needle. This finger-tip size patch provides spike proteins immediately into the body of COVID-19 patients leading to a robust immune system. Once this patch is applied over the infected person’s body, these microneedles compose of proteins and sugars which ultimately dissolve and leave no traces.
DEVELOPMENT OF PITTCOVACC:
The co-senior author Louis Falo says that we have a developed this patch similar to the original scratch method, which was used to deliver smallpox vaccine over the skin. Still, in the modern era, we wanted something more efficient, highly convenient, and is reproducible from one patient to another. Louis Falo from Pitt’s school of medicine adds that this new technology feels painless and is similar to Velcro.
The researchers further explain that during this time of the pandemic, these vaccines can be easily manufactured at a massive scale in industries by cell factories. The cell factory is the one where cultured cells are multilayered and engineered to express spike proteins of SARS-COV-2, which can be stacked further to yield multiple vaccines at a time. These vaccines don’t need any special care like other vaccines that need to refrigerate when stored or transported. When concerning the current vaccine development, we don’t need to go ahead and massively develop the vaccine. Still, during this time of the pandemic, we need a massive expansion of the vaccine immediately. Before going forward with the human trials, researchers are still waiting for the approval of the drug by the US Food and Drug Anticipation. Falo explains that the human trials of this vaccine might need a year or two depending on the availability; however, the researchers are trying their best to come up with stunning results and get approval. Falo further says that this particular pandemic situation is far more different than the typical conditions we have ever seen, so, for this reason, we are not yet sure that how long it will take for the clinical development process to continue.